Kate Middleton was widely reported to have used a technique called “hypnobirthing” to ease labor pain while delivering her new son. Now the question is, in the wake of the most-hyped celebrity birth in years, will hypnosis become a hot new trend in childbirth?
Robert Atlas, M.D., chief of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, tells Newsmax Health that the delivery method is not as far out of the mainstream as you might think.
“There are classes that you take related to this process just like Lamaze,” he said. “Hypnobirthing, like other forms of hypnotherapy, puts you in an alternate state of consciousness,” said Dr. Atlas.
The prestigious Cleveland Clinic has recently started teaching the pain-reducing technique.
“It uses hypnotherapy techniques to induce a state of deep relaxation during childbirth,” Dr. Atlas said. “Music and affirmations may also be employed.”
Hypnobirthing is already becoming popular in Hollywood, with actresses Jessica Alba Tiffani Thiessen having reportedly used it. Kate Middleton gave birth to an 8-pound, 6-ounce boy on Monday after about eight hours of labor.
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Self-hypnosis has been used for centuries to ease pain, but only in recent years have birthing programs using the technique sprung up. Although they go by different names, what hypnobirthing methods have in common is the contention that fear leads to the pain during labor. This fear ignites the “fight or flight” syndrome in which hormones are released that raise blood pressure, heart rate, and ultimately direct blood to the large muscles, draining it from where it is needed in the uterus, making labor less productive and more painful.
Hypnotherapy is designed to combat fear and to help the body release endorphins, the so-called “happy hormones” that relieve pain.
In this way, hypnobirthing goes beyond Lamaze, which was introduced more than a half-century ago and is designed to lessen the pain of labor by having women focus on breathing.
Hypnotherapy is not promoted as a method that will make childbirth completely pain free, but some mothers say it enabled them to use less medication or none at all.
While it is gaining more acceptance, Dr. Atlas says hypnobirthing is not for every mom.
“If you’re a type-A personality who is very anxious and needs to be in control at all time, then hypnobirthing probably won’t work for you because the whole point of it is letting your mind go free,” he said. “But for some women it has worked well – and after the royal birth we may be seeing it more often.”
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